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Reisverslag 2nd to 5th day of our trip
14 november 2016
2nd to 5th day of our trip
No internet, power or time has brought me to Day 6.
Day two (8 November) I woke up with a bad rash again, we stayed in a nice motel, but it must have mattresses with latex in them. I did let them know via SMS. They apologized, but denied it.
Driving from Clare to Ceduna, only about 700 Km took us all day, we did it easy. Country side was again beautiful with undulating wheat fields as far as the eye could see and the road is excellent, sitting all the way on 110Km. One hairy moment when we passed a tanker truck and were about 200 meters in front when Jan suddenly had to brake hard for a crossing Emu and chick. We did get to a stop, but suddenly the tanker loomed large in the rear view mirror, then we had to tear away like a hoon. We made that again with tanker coming within 10 meters of our backside. It is a long road and you need some excitement.
Went to the one hotel in Ceduna for tea, a nice, big and very busy place. Ceduna is the last or first decent town across the Nullarbor.
Next day (9 November) up at 5.30 am and on the road at 6.30, no time for breakfast just a cup of tea. This was going to be a long day driving across the Nullarbor, 1200Km. At 110Km per hour should take us 11 hours. It took us 15 hours, but with time zone differences (3Hrs with WA) we got to Norseman at 18.30. It was a long drive, we swapped driving every 2 hours with the speed of a formula 1 team.
We did stop at the “Head of the Bight”, the most northerly point of the Great Australian Bight.
We were told that a few months earlier there were about 150 whales and their calves, now there were none, just a view over a great blue flat ocean, still a nice view.
The long road and Nullarbor plane provides some amazing vistas. The road appears pretty much all the way to be straight, although the actual straight stretch is only something like 149Km.
In the morning after leaving Ceduna, it had rained and the road was wet, so we had to slow down frequently for kangaroos having a drink from puddles on the side of the road. And on our account they are welcome to it. It is difficult with a photo to do justice to the awesome expanse of the plane, so I took snippets of video of scrubland, an escarpment (ancient coastline) and the absolute flatness with only low grass on the actual Nullarbor plane. Such views tend to inspire me with challenges of wandering across it, to understand the landscape better, to learn about yourself and your relationship with the environment. I suppose it awakes the eternal explorer in man. Luckily such ideas are quickly put to sleep by the “desperate need” for our creature comforts, particularly after having to s..t in the woods.
Stops along the road are far and few in between. Penong presented some lovely views of lots of old windmills in the landscape in the pale, golden, dewy sunlight of the early desert morning.
Most other places like Yalata, Eucla, Cocklebiddy are old roadhouses in dusty, desolate environments, providing fuel, take away food, a few motel rooms (hot boxes) and some dirt for campers and vans. They looked nothing like oases, but fulfilled the needs usually met in a few minutes on a journey somewhere else.
Closer to Norseman we came across a lovely scene of some stately pedestrians crossing the highway slowly, with total disregard for oncoming traffic. It was a mother Emu and her 12 chicks. We gave them safe passage, but as usual failed to capture this lovely scene on camera. When I took the camera from the console, removed it from its cover and switched to photo and pointing to where the Emu’s were, I pointed only to s..t in the woods, the emu’s were gone.
I expected a lot of Norseman, but it is little more than all the other stops put together. A town that used to be a place for pioneers in the gold rush, when it was a busy place. It has not progressed much and the population has shrunk to a few hundred. Yearly rainfall is less then 30mm, so it is a dusty place, no green nature strips or grassy areas. Buildings and houses are old and mostly dilapidated. A thought occurred that people need to care more about improving their surroundings, their service, their communication, but sometimes this can seem a futile fight.
We had tea at the only hotel, pizza’s and a beer, a good dinner, an assessment based mainly on quantity of topping then care in gastronomy. The pub was old with paint colours from the seventies and recent “handy man” alterations made to accommodate the modern times, a flat screen TV high in a corner, an Automatic Teller Machine lumped in another corner. The bar was held up by the half a dozen barflies, descendants from men that have performed this duty diligently through the ages. One or two who’s wealth and comfort can be measured in the size of their girth (no tax on that at least!), others who’s creativity and leisure can be measured in the eager consumption of smokes and beers. These are men that express their opinions confidently and forcefully in the heated discussions revolving around news items on the TV or local politics. A nightly ritual.
I digress, my apologies.
Thursday (10 November) we drove to Esperance, which is only 200Km and an easy drive. We had a look at Lake Cowan, a large, dry salt lake near Norseman and fossicked for agate gemstone nearby. Found no diamonds alas, although Jan left with a pocket full of “precious” stones (they are not going to the pool room).
That night we did not have any accommodation booked anywhere, so we decided to go to Cape Le Grand National Park, a park 45Km east of Esperance and camp. It was a nice evening. We were blown away with the beauty of the place, even more beautiful than Wilson’s Promontory. By coincidence we chose the best spot, Cape le Grand beach and were lucky to have the last available space (number 6 of 15). The space provided shelter from bushes and some privacy and the toilet/shower facility was “next door”, important for a man over 60 years of age with a weak bladder. Having set up the tent we went to the camp kitchen and cooked dinner, chops, broccoli, potatoes and cherry tomatoes. Everyone else had deserted the kitchen as it was after dark, so we had the place to ourselves and had to use head torches to cook and eat our dinner by. WA does not have daylight saving, it gets light at 4.00 am and dark at 19.00.
During dinner we felt again a small sense of satisfaction (a tingling of survival instinct?) of having been able to make our bed for the night and a wholesome meal in the bush, which seems always to taste better than one made at home or in a restaurant. So at 20.30 we were in bed in the tent and very comfortable on a thick, soft air mattress and never used sleeping bags. We were as rug as a snug in a bug and soon fell asleep. However it turned out an eventful night, no not what you are thinking…………. Rain started at 24.00, first it fell gently on the fly of the tent, than with a force so strong creating a noise of 100 decibel and in no time I was desperate to go to the loo. How is that for a weather phenomenon, a low barometric pressure system created an extremely high bladder pressure, but I had to wait for a lull in the storm and when it came you can imagine the carnage I created getting to the loo. Getting up from the mattress with the grace of a boxer who has gone 12 rounds, fumbling through stuff for my head torch, bend in hips, knees, ankles and neck at the same time feeling with my feet for shoes in the dark outside the tent while my head (with head torch) was still inside the tent, needing to hang onto some tent flap to maintain balance, tripping over a guy rope and shifting the tent half a meter. Anyway I made it in my usual quiet way. I had to get up twice during that night and at 4.00 am the birds started their song and the wind seemed about 100Km an hour, tearing the tent apart. By that stage I was singing the praises and charm of camping….in latin.
We went on to explore the beach, Thistle Cove and walked from there to Lucky Bay. One of the most beautiful walks I have ever made. Turquoise blue seas, white capped surf, blue sky with big fat white clouds drifting leisurely from west to east, huge brown boulders and bluffs rolling into the sea and a sprinkling of tiny islands just off shore. I ended up with a sunburnt head, red as a beetroot. In my haste for wanderlust I forgot to put on a hat and sunscreen. I learnt my lesson!!
At 2.00 pm we checked into our Esperance accommodation, a small studio, what a comfort!
Saturday (12 November) was a relaxing day, slow start, breakfast, coffee at 11.00, short walk along more beautiful coast line, then for a late lunch. Sorry no luck all café’s close at 2.00 pm, in the west it is back to the sixties.
Foto's bij verslag (6)
14 november 2016 15:30 | Door: Truus
Peter, you can start to wright a book. I think that many people will have lots of fun reading it.
Very beautifull surroundings.
15 november 2016 01:30 | Door: Michelle Oliver
Hi Pete and Jan, Great to see you are having lots of fun and adventures. Pete, you write with lovely descriptive prose - it makes it so easy to visualise. Keep the stories coming through. Enjoy your adventures - there will be many, some good some not so good, but all make the experience whole (and provide a giggle!!). Enjoy!
16 november 2016 14:20 | Door: Jan & Alda
dear Jan & Peter,
we are getting jealous here, reading stuff like: 'up at 5.30, no time for breakfast..... and no café's open for a late lunch' !!!!!! Of course this is what you both need mostly after a lifetime of hard labour: some time and the right surroundings to kick the old habits.
in the meantime we enjoy your wonderful stories so we hope to read many more!!!!
have a great time